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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Falcon 9's nine Merlin first stage engines successfully fire for two seconds during a static fire test on September 29, 2012.
SpaceX

One week from today, the Dragon C3 spacecraft will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) to begin the first of twelve official cargo-delivery flights to the ISS as contracted by NASA. The mission is on track after SpaceX successfully conducted a static fire test of the Falcon 9's nine Merlin first stage engines at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida yesterday. Liftoff is targeted for 5:35 PM, Pacific Daylight Time next Sunday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A SpaceX video screenshot showing the Falcon 9's first stage motor touching down on the ground using retro-rockets.
SpaceX

Rise of the Grasshopper... One week ago today, SpaceX tested a Falcon 9 first stage motor that briefly rose 6 feet into the air before touching back down on the ground on four steel landing legs. Taking place at the Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, the so-called Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) is designed to begin validating the concept of a fully-reusable Falcon 9 rocket that was announced by SpaceX about a year ago. In the coming months, the VTVL tests will become more ambitious...with Grasshopper hovering as high up as 100 feet in the air before landing back on the surface. It remains to be seen when this landing capability will become operational and implemented on actual Falcon 9 flights. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stored within a United Airlines hangar at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Endeavour is prepped for museum display on September 24, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Endeavour: 5 Days Later... The youngest orbiter in NASA's retired space shuttle fleet is safely stored within a large United Airlines hangar at Los Angeles International Airport...having been removed from the top of her Shuttle Carrier Aircraft last Saturday and now undergoing final preparations for her trip to the California Science Center next month. As shown above, Endeavour is on the Over Land Transporter that will carry her over the 12 miles of city streets that the spacecraft needs to traverse prior to becoming a permanent L.A. museum exhibit on October 30th. Among the tasks that need to be done beforehand are the removal of the tailcone that shielded Endeavour's three Replica Shuttle Main Engines during last week's ferry flight from Florida and re-installation of the twin thruster nozzles to her Orbital Maneuvering System pods. Endeavour will take to the streets of L.A. starting on Friday, October 12, and arrive at the Science Center on October 13.

At LAX, Endeavour hangs in the air after being removed from atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on September 22, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

The Sun rises as Endeavour is placed atop the Over Land Transporter at LAX on September 22, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

It is early morning as Endeavour is now placed atop the Over Land Transporter at LAX, on September 22, 2012.
NASA / Paul E. Alers

Endeavour comes nose to nose with the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at LAX on September 22, 2012.
NASA / Scott Andrews

Endeavour is placed in temporary storage inside the United Airlines hangar at LAX on September 22, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Friday, September 21, 2012

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, on September 21, 2012.
REUTERS / Patrick Fallon

Endeavour arrives in the Golden State... In an aerial show that captivated millions across Northern and Southern California (except in San Diego) earlier today, the retired space shuttle Endeavour and her carrier jet NASA 905 managed to do flyovers of some of the Golden State's most memorable landmarks. From the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood Sign to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, and even the decommissioned battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro, NASA made sure that awesome photo ops for the space shuttle fleet's youngest orbiter were made available along the California coastline and the Los Angeles area before Endeavour touched down at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at 12:51 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. The orbiter is now undergoing preps at LAX before she is set to dazzle the L.A. public once more during a 2-day street parade to the California Science Center, Endeavour's final home, on October 12 and 13.

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on September 21, 2012.
NASA / Carla Thomas

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena on September 21, 2012.
NASA / JPL - Twitpic.com

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Honda Center and Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Orange County, on September 21, 2012.
NASA / Jim Ross

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Queen Mary in Long Beach on September 21, 2012.
Matthew Brucker - Twitter.com

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro on September 21, 2012.
NASA / Jim Ross

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the California Science Center on September 21, 2012.
NASA / Jim Ross

Endeavour and NASA 905 fly over the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) prior to touching down at LAX on September 21, 2012.
NASA / Scott Andrews

Friday, September 14, 2012

Neil Armstrong is about to be buried at sea during a ceremony aboard the USS Philippine Sea, on September 14, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Laid to rest... Neil Armstrong was buried at sea during a ceremony aboard the U.S. Navy vessel USS Philippine Sea earlier today. While Armstrong and his two Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins touched down in the Pacific Ocean after their historic lunar voyage in 1969, the first man to set foot on the Moon now rests somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the five oceans that earned the Earth the nickname "Pale Blue Dot" by the late American astronomer Carl Sagan in 1990; it is only fitting that the first human to set foot on another celestial world (and who was also a naval aviator before becoming an astronaut) and view the Pale Blue Dot from an extraterrestrial surface would finally be one with Earth's most prominent geographic feature.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Paul Nagy and Carol Armstrong, Neil Armstrong's wife, commit the cremains of Armstrong to sea during a ceremony aboard the USS Philippine Sea, on September 14, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Attendees to the memorial service for Neil Armstrong sing a hymnal at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on September 13, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Neil Armstrong Remembered... Earlier today, a memorial service for the first man to walk on the Moon was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Among the dignitaries in attendance were fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins (Armstrong's Apollo 11 crew members), Gene Cernan (the last man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972), John Glenn (the first American to orbit the Earth), NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Today's memorial follows a private service that was held by Armstrong's family in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 31.

Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82 in Cincinnati on August 25. He will be buried at sea tomorrow.

Neil Armstrong poses for a photo by fellow Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin inside the Eagle Lunar Module, on July 20, 1969.
NASA / Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

President John F. Kennedy speaks at Rice University in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962...about sending Americans to the Moon by the end of that decade.
Robert Knudsem, Office of the Military Aide

50 Years Ago, Today... President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would land men on the Moon by the end of that decade during a speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas. What makes this speech so special is that his goal, even though Kennedy wouldn't live to see it happen, became a reality about seven years later with Apollo 11. Since then, presidents such as George H.W. Bush and even his son George W. Bush tried to lay out the same ambitious plans for NASA (with George Bush Sr. announcing in 1989 that astronauts would venture to the Moon and Mars with the Space Exploration Initiative, and George Bush Jr. declaring in 2004 that humans would head to the aforementioned celestial bodies with the Vision for Space Exploration)...only to see these plans either shot down by Congress or the president himself not following through on providing adequate funding for the program.

President Obama has proposed that a manned mission be sent to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025. Even though NASA is making good progress on developing the Space Launch System needed for this flight, it remains to be seen if the U.S. space agency will actually achieve Obama's goal thirteen years from now—if at all. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Work continues on space shuttle Atlantis' new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) in Florida, on September 5, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Atlantis & Endeavour: Retirement Updates... While work nears completion on Atlantis final decommissioning at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as well as her new home (in the pics posted above and below) at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, plans continue to be released in terms of Endeavour's impending departure from KSC on September 17 and her arrival in Southern California on September 20. Below are the locations that Endeavour—placed atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (designated as NASA 905) which will ferry her across the country—will fly over during her 3-day voyage to downtown Los Angeles.

Work continues on space shuttle Atlantis' new home at the KSCVC in Florida, on September 5, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Sites and cities that Endeavour / NASA 905 will fly over between September 17-20:

- Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Florida (9/17)

- Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida (9/17)

- Patrick Air Force Base, Florida (9/17)

- NASA Stennis Space Center, Mississippi (9/17)

- Michoud Assembly Facility, Louisiana (9/17)

- Houston, Texas (9/17)

- Clear Lake, Texas (9/17)

- Galveston, Texas (9/17)

- NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas (9/17)

- White Sands Test Facility, New Mexico (9/19)

- NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, California (9/19)

- NASA Ames Research Center, California (9/20)

- San Francisco, California (9/20)

- Sacramento, California (9/20)

- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California (9/20)

- Los Angeles, California (9/20... Landing at LAX targeted for 11 AM, Pacific Daylight Time)


(Source: NASA.Gov)

A mock airlock prior to being installed inside Atlantis' payload bay at Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)-2, on September 5, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The mock airlock is installed inside Atlantis' payload bay at Kennedy Space Center's OPF-2, on September 5, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Monday, September 3, 2012

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide participates in an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) outside of the International Space Station (ISS), on August 30, 2012.
NASA / Sunita Williams

Photos of the Day... Last Thursday, the first spacewalk to be initiated from the U.S. Quest airlock since the shuttle flight STS-134 in May of 2011 was conducted at the International Space Station (ISS). The Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) was the third longest in NASA history. The EVA lasted 8 hours, 17 minutes...while the record holder (which took place during an ISS assembly mission back in 2001) had a length of 8 hours, 56 minutes.

NASA is planning a contingency EVA for this Wednesday since spacewalkers Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide were unable to install a new Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) into the ISS' power grid last week. The MBSU is crucial to the station in that it allows the orbital outpost to draw electricity from all 8 of its 115-foot-long solar arrays. The ISS is currently receiving power from 5 of the arrays.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams (center frame) and JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide (seen as silhouette to the right of Williams) participate in an EVA outside of the ISS, on August 30, 2012.
NASA

Backdropped over Andros Island and other parts of the Bahamas, Sunita Williams and Aki Hoshide participate in an EVA outside of the ISS on August 30, 2012.
NASA

The Kibo, Harmony and Columbus modules are visible in this shot of the ISS...photographed during the EVA on August 30, 2012.
NASA

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dragon C3's Falcon 9 vehicle undergoes a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) test on August 31, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

SpaceX update... Yesterday, the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the next International Space Station (ISS)-bound Dragon vehicle was rolled out to the launch pad to conduct a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) in preparation for Dragon's upcoming flight to the ISS...which takes place next month. During the WDR, which occurred at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Falcon 9 was fully loaded with fuel—and a simulated countdown was conducted that concluded with a simulated engine shutdown just before liftoff. The launch rehearsal was a success, and SpaceX is ready to officially begin the first of twelve cargo-delivery flights to the ISS as part of its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The flight, known as Dragon C3, is targeted for launch on October 8.

Dragon C3's Falcon 9 vehicle rolls out from its hangar to the launch pad to undergo a WDR on August 31, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Dragon C3's Falcon 9 vehicle is raised on its launch pad to undergo a WDR on August 31, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann